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Full text of "ModernGermanLiterature18801950"

544                   MODERN   GERMAN   LITERATURE

consists of the recognition of reality and the expressing of it in
the new form. Benn's apparent pessimism - life is a matter of
instinct and fate depends on chance - is extraneous to creative art.
The best introduction to his work for those who dare to venture
into it is his volume of selections Tnmkeue \Unt (1949), together
with his autobiographical and self-interpretative Doppelleben(i^^m
His early verse, collected in Gtisamnwlte Gedichte (1927), is com-
pleted by Ausffwablte Gedichte (1936); Sfatiscbe Gedichte (1948);
FraffMn/efaw i); Destillaliomn(i^^}\Aprbliide(i<)^}^r^Gesam-
melte Gedichte 1912-1926. There is the same crass realism in Benn's
Novellen (Gehtrne% 1917), which (in intention) pierce and parcel
the processes of an intricate mind in the way of X-rays detecting
the lesions of a body. The cerebral elucubrations of a young sur-
geon crush all events from the book by treating experience as
brain reflexes. One of the institutions the hero serves is an inter-
national brothel on the Red Sea; and throughout the book the
relations of mind to copulation serve to show the hopelessness of
transforming motion, mental or physical, to action without a pur-
pose, as a third impulse between hunger and love, to restore unity
of thought; this climax of speculation would apparently amount
to panpsychism by way of a revival of Berkeley's ideas. What may
be genuine philosophy in the disquisition is side-tracked by such
things as syllogisms derived from the blue vein running from hip
to pubic hair on the body of a prostitute. In his book of conver-
sations Dm aUe M&nner (1949) Benn explores the existential situ-
ation of today, and in his descriptive sketches and critical or
philosophic prose he diagnoses the symptoms of decay; J?a%it der
Pmpektim (1930); Nach (km NihUis&ms (1952); Der Ptolomder
(1949); Axsdrueksmlt (1949); Fr/Zfir Prose nnd Redw (1950); Essays
(1951). Benn's Introduction to Das Zeita/ter dtr Angst (p. 540)
throws light on his attitude to the new literary phases.

Perhaps the best introduction to WIUUULM LEHMANN (1882-)
is by way oiEildms der El tern wdtrste Kindhitt^ one of the essays of
his ftemgliche Qrdnung (1947), and the autobiographical matter in
his Muhe des Anfangs (1952) and Bttkolisches T&gfbueb aw dm Jahren
1927-19}% (*948)* Bom in Venezuela as the son of a commercial
employ^ from Liibeck he was brought back to Germany when
three years old. He took his Ph*D. at Kiel and was then a teacher
in various schools, for the best part of his life in the Gymnasium
at Eckemforde* He served as an infantryman in World War I and